Archbishop Stephen Langton.

Man Who Put Chapters in the Bible

Field review by the editors.

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Stephen Langton (1158-1220) was the Archbishop of Canterbury and the man responsible for dividing the Bible into today's easy-reference chapters. Before that, Good Book scrolls, ground out by monastic scriptoria, were an ocean of continuous calligraphy with an occasional blank space. Langton's system first went into use in a bible in 1382 (160 years after his death), and a later innovation further divided his chapters into numbered verses.

A carved limestone statue of Langton was placed in a prominent spot on the outside of the Big Ben tower in London. By 1933, however, it had deteriorated. It had been taken down and was lying on the ground, ready to be thrown away, when along came an American, Katherine Pendleton Arrington. She was the president of the North Carolina Art Society, and was in London to visit her friend, the American ambassador. On the spur of the moment, she asked if she could have the statue.

Arrington brought it back to North Carolina and had it mounted on the outside wall of UNC's Person Hall. It's still there, although it has continued to deteriorate. The archbishop now looks like one of the angel wraiths at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Man Who Put Chapters in the Bible

Address:
181 E. Cameron Ave., Chapel Hill, NC
Directions:
University of North Carolina. The statue is outdoors, stuck on the back wall of Person Hall. He's holding a scroll.
Admission:
Free
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August 19, 2019

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